What does Judges 9:35 mean?
ESV: And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from the ambush.
NIV: Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops came out from their hiding place.
NASB: Now Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate; and Abimelech and the people who were with him arose from the ambush.
CSB: Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate. Then Abimelech and the troops who were with him got up from their ambush.
NLT: Gaal was standing at the city gates when Abimelech and his army came out of hiding.
KJV: And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.
The moment of the ambush has come. Gaal threatened to unseat Abimelech from his position over Shechem and the region (Judges 9:26–29). Zebul, Abimelech's officer in the city, has warned Abimelech and devised a plan for Abimelech to ambush Gaal and take the city (Judges 9:30–34).
When the attack comes, Gaal and Zebul are standing at the city's eastern gate at sunrise. Gaal is clearly unaware that Zebul is not loyal to him. Nor is he prepared for what is about to happen. As the sun rises, Abimelech and his four companies of men charge the city. Based on archaeology from the site of Shechem, they likely approached the gates in the shadow of the nearby hills as the sun rose. That would place the rising sun directly in the eyes of those at the gates. As the following verse shows, Gaal does not immediately understand what he's seeing. Zebul will further delay Gaal's understanding by taking advantage of the poor view (Judges 9:36).
Judges 9:22–57 describes the brutal fulfillment of Jotham's curse against his brother, Abimelech, and the leaders of the city of Shechem. God allows the two sides to be split by an evil spirit. First, Shechem's leaders attempt to kill Abimelech. Then they plot with a man named Gaal to overthrow him. Helped by his officer in the city, Abimelech and his men ambush Gaal and Shechem. They kill all the people and destroy the city. They then move on to the town of Thebez to do the same, but Abimelech is killed. Jotham's prediction of divine vengeance (Judges 9:19–20) comes true.
Shechem's leaders conspire with a concubine's son to kill Gideon's other seventy sons. They make this man, Abimelech, their ruler. Gideon's youngest son survives, however, and delivers a curse. Using a fable, he says Abimelech and Shechem's leaders will destroy each other. God causes a division between Shechem's leaders and Abimelech. The noblemen attempt to kill Abimelech and unite behind a new leader. Abimelech discovers the plot and kills everyone in Shechem, destroying the city. When attacking a tower in a nearby town, however, Abimelech's skull is crushed by a thrown millstone. The curse is fulfilled.
Gideon successfully defeated Midianite raiders but declined to become Israel's official king. His sons, however, were held in high esteem during his remaining years (Judges 8). After Gideon's death, ambitious men conspire to kill almost all those heirs. This results in a series of bloody events. Eventually, judgment comes on those responsible. Israel fails to learn from the tragedies. Chapter 10 explains further idolatry and sin, before introducing the next major judge, Jephthah, in chapter 11.
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
Accessed 12/6/2023 11:28:46 PM
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